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Spirit advances to under-19 title game


BLAINE, Minn. -- Thanks to goalkeeper C. J. Norton, the under-19 Baltimore Spirit is playing in the Snickers United States Youth Soccer National Championships boys championship match.

Baltimore made tomorrow's 8:30 p.m. final at the National Sports Center by beating the Salsa of Riverside, Calif., yesterday, with a 4-2 advantage in a penalty-kick tiebreaker after playing to a 2-2 tie through 120 minutes. The Spirit will face the Countryside Lightning of Clearwater, Fla., a 1-0 winner over Vardar III of Livonia, Mich., in the other semifinal.

"There is just one word for [Norton]: outstanding," said Spirit striker Mike Henning, who tied the game at 2 on a header in the 65th minute.

Norton, who replaced Russell Payne after intermission, was credited with 11 saves -- not including his two stops in the extra penalty kick segment.

"Penalty kicks are penalty kicks. I didn't worry about the pressure," said Norton, who plays at UMBC. "I just knew where they were going."

Matt Nesbitt, J. J. Kremer, Bryan Bugarin and Shane Dougherty were all perfect from the 12-yard spot in the tiebreaker.

* In a roster in yesterday's editions, the high schools of two Spirit players were listed incorrectly. Daniel Gaertner and Russell Payne went to Glenelg High. The Sun regrets the error.

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